ACADEMY OF SPIRITUALITY AND PARANORMAL STUDIES, INC.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2010 PROCEEDINGS
WHAT IS THE BEST EVIDENCE FOR SURVIVAL?
In his Diary of a Writer, the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, says: "There is only single supreme idea on earth -the concept of immortality of the human soul. All other profound ideas by which men live are only an extension of it. "
In our culture grounded in philosophical materialism, researchers have sought evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death through a number of separate though united categories of survival research evidence: near-death experiences or the azarus syndrome, out-of-body experiences, reincarnation, mental, physical, trance, and direct voice mediumship, after-death communications place hauntings, possession, apparitions of the dead including psychomanteum use, spirit photographs, electronic voice recordings, instrumental transcommunication, death bed visions and experiences, cross correspondences, materialization, etc.
One approach to develop the best evidence for survival is to research all available evidence for each category of survival evidence to identify the very best cases in each category that have no viable explanations such as coincidence, conscious or unconscious fraud, mistaken observation, etc. Consider that if you have one stick, it is easy to break; If you bundle many sticks together, it is difficult to break the bundle. Similarly, if you combine all the best cases in all the categories of survival evidence, they make a robust bundle of evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death. But this is extremely difficult to do because all categories of survival evidence have in common aspects of paranormal cognitive and/or paraphysical explanations. Compounding this further is that the space and time limitations of both mental and physical aspects of psi are unknown, and most cases of survival evidence are anecdotal reports that don't meet the rigorous criteria of orthodox science. The result is that if the "best" case in any category is identified and alternative explanations eliminated by the application of William of Occam's Razor (the law of parsimony in science), the survival hypothesis still has to overcome the Strongest alternative explanations. possible psi explanations. William James said of the astoundingly accurate trance medium Leonora Piper, "You can prove that not all crows are black if you can find one white crow, and Mrs. Piper is my white crow." In searching for veridical survival evidence, it is virtually impossible to find a white crow.
For example, consider what appears to be an ideal near-death experience (NDE) such as that of a woman in Hartford Hospital in Connecticut who died clinically in 1985. She had an out-of-body experience, floated up above her body, could see and later describe details of her resuscitation, went through the ceiling and several floors of the hospital, and emerged above the hospital from which position she could see a panoramic view of Hartford and a red woman's shoe in a hospital rooftop gutter. After being resuscitated, :he described her experience to Kathy Milne, a nurse, who related this experience to a skeptical resident who asked a janitor to take him to the hospital roof where they found a red shoe in the gutter where the woman said she'd seen it. The woman didn't arrive at the hospital by Life Star helicopter, and in no other way would she have had an opportunity to see the red shoe except during the out-of-body phase of her near-death experience. :Ring. 1993,226-227)..
Such an experience evidences the non locality of consciousness, that consciousness, a function of the mind. is capable of functioning outside of and away from the brain. It also provides evidence that the mind can function independently of the brain and that rather than the prevailing medical and scientific theory that the brain secretes consciousness like the liver secrets bile, that the mind is like a television studio that transmits information to the brain which, like a television set receives and displays the transmission. Experiences having characteristics of the non locality of consciousness and separability of the mind from the brain provide evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death. Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut, said that if consciousness can function outside of the body and brain at a distance from the body and brain, it is evidence that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body.
Medical doctors and scientists grounded in philosophical materialism give reductionistic explanations for near-death experiences, saying they are hallucinations, a result of brain anoxia or hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen to the brain), a result of beta endorphins (morphine like analgesics) released in the brain, or psychological disassociation caused by the fear of death. Such explanations don't adequately explain what is happening during the near-death experience. Thousands of people, during the out-of -body phase of their near-death experience, see and experience things, occasionally miles away, that are corroborated empirically after they are resuscitated. Aside from some form of paranormal cognition -telepathy, clairvoyance, clair cogniscence -there is no way to explain this in the very best cases by saying it is a result of dying or pathological brain processes. Using reductionistic explanations doesn't explain the changes in belief systems, personalities and lives of those who have near-death experiences. Many near-death experiencers no longer fear death because they've experienced death and many become unconditionally loving after contacting a loving Being of Light. Psychiatrists know that hallucinations do not bring about such changes.
This example of the evidence one category of survival evidence provides relates to the others. When you consider all categories of evidence for postmortem survival, consider viable alterative explanations for each, see how they intermesh and select the best in support of the survival hypothesis, you have a very strong case for postmortem survival, but you don't have proof.
I consider that scientific research of near-death experiences with their out-of-body component; out-of-body experiences themselves; and the meticulous research that Ian Stevenson, M.D. conducted on thousands of cases of claimed memories of past lives provide the best evidence for postmortem survival.
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
I consider that research of children's near-death experiences done by Melvin Morse, w. and research by Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. of near -death and out-of-body experiences of congenitally blind and otherwise blind persons spelled out in his book, Mindsight. provide high levels of evidence for postmortem survival. Children describe persons who !ley contacted during their NDE who had died before the child was born. During the out- of-body phase of their NDE, blind people describe in detail what they "see" and hear in ill operating room and at miles distant from their physical body. They report what they've seen and the details are corroborated empirically. At a conference on consciousness, I described the work of Dr. Ring and asked a panel of four psychoneurologists how they explained this; none of them could or did
OUT -OF-BODY EXPERIENCES.
Antigravitationaltetrasynchronicity (a state of being in four dimensional time) or the out-of-body experience is an extra somatic experience, that can occur spontaneously during sleep, as a result of physical injury and other causes or purposefully through various psycho spiritual disciplines and/or technologies. While out of the body, this component of consciousness which might be called the spiritual or astral body, can travel thousands of miles from the physical body, see, hear and sometimes slow its vibratory rate so those present can see it.
Scientific experiments have been conducted to confirm the objectivity of the OBE. At William Roll's Psychical Research Laboratory in Durham, North Carolina, a subject, Blue Harary, was able to go out of the body under conscious control and interact with humans, animals and electromechanical devices to provide evidence of the objectivity of OBEs. At random times, mediums and clairvoyants sensed and reported his out-of- body presence. Kittens and rattlesnakes reacted to his projected body. More importantly, his extra somatic and nonlocal self interacted with sophisticated monitoring devices that recorded his presence at a discreet point outside of his physical body. Thermocouples monitored changes in heat, thermisters and photomultiplier tubes monitored changes in the permeability of the electromagnetic spectrum at the point to which he went while out of the body.
Karlis Osis, Ph.D., Director of Research at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City, conducted research with Alex Tanous, Ph.D. and Ingo Swan, both of whom were able to leave their bodies under conscious control. Both were in e Faraday cage that prevented passage of any known electromagnetic waves. Both left the cage, went to a black box in another room, looked through a small peep hole to see wha1 was inside and reported what they'd seen when they returned to their bodies. Inside the black box, the random decay of a radioactive substance caused one of six different figures to display on one of the four colored quadrants of a disc that had revolved and then stopped. There were a: series of mirrors inside the box and a computer which generated a chart in mathematical code indicating which figure was displayed on which quadrant This was designed to overcome possible knowledge of what was displayed by the use of paranormal cognition. The subjects reported accurately what they'd seen. This research gave some understanding of the nature of perception in the out-of-body state and the extrasomaticity of OBEs, and also provided evidence of the non-locality of consciousness. Edgar Mitchell once said that if a man can see events while out of the body, he can see without the body and without the brain. In other words, the out-of-body experience provides evidence that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body.
If reincarnation is valid, it follows that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body. Ian Stevenson. M.D., a psychiatrist and Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, was the world's foremost researcher of reincarnation evidence. In 1997, he published his magnum opus, A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects and an abstract of it. Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. He was widely respected for the careful and accurate research he conducted throughout the world for over 40 years on over 2,600 cases of claimed memories of previous lifetimes. He wrote about 225 of the most evidential cases in these books. He conducted research primarily on children who, when they began speaking at three and four years old, began telling their parents and caregivers of previous lifetimes they remembered. As he investigated these cases, he sought to find a viable alternative explanation other than reincarnation. He considered whether genetic memory; some form of paranormal cognition; conscious or unconscious fraud on the part of the child and/or the child's parents or care giver; and information heard in the present life and confabulation might be involved. If such explanations didn't work, he'd accept a case as '.suggestive of reincarnation".
The cases of which he wrote are ones in which a child remembers some details of a previous life, including how they died. What is outstanding about these cases is that the children had rare types of birthmark and/or birth anomalies that corresponded in location and configuration with the mortal wounds on the body of the one they remember having been in a previous life. The books contain hundreds of photographs of their bodies showing these birthmarks and anomalies. When there are two such birthmarks or anomalies, the odds against it happening by chance alone are 25,600 to I. In addition, xenoglossy is involved in some of these cases where the child could speak the language responsively that was spoken by the one they recaIl having been in a past life although they hadn't been exposed to that language in the present life. By the time these children were seven to eleven years old, they'd lost their memories of the previous life. These cases provide the best physical and empirical evidence for reincarnation. Because veridical birthmarks and anomalies are present, these cases provide evidence not subject to reductionistic explanations such as the superpsi hypothesis which are used with other categories of survival evidence.
When you consider the best cases in all categories of postmortem survival evidence, consider if alternative explanations meet viable requirements of the survival hypothesis, and see how the best cases in each category interrelate, you'll have very strong evidence for postmortem survival. The very best evidence is provided by research of reincarnation cases where birthmarks and birth anomalies on the bodies of children correspond in location and configuration with the mortal wounds on the bodies of those they remember having been in a previous lifetime.If you believe that the grave is the end of life and there is no afterlife, the result is that you live your life in that way. If you have a belief- based on faith or evidence -that consciousness survives the death of the physical body and life continues after bodily death. then you live life in another way. This ultimately is the importance of survival research.
Ring. Kenneth, Pill and Lawrence, Madelaine, RN., Ph.D., article, "Further Evidence for Veridical Perception During Near-Death Experiences", Summer, ]993, Vol. ] I, No.4 issue of Journal of Near-Death Studies, Human Sciences Press, Inc.
Stevenson, Ian, M.D., ] 997, Reincarnation and Biology, Praeger Pub]ishers, 88 Post
Road West, P.O. Box 5007, Westport, CT 0688]-5007.
Boyce Batey is a graduate of Princeton University where he majored in Eng]ish Literature. He's been the Executive Director of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc. (formerly the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research) for the past 32 years. He has been a psychical researcher for 54 years with a primary interest in evidence for survival of consciousness after the death of the physical body. He's a hospice volunteer, volunteer docent at the Noah Webster House in West Hartford, volunteer protocol director for the President's College at the University of Hartford, and an adult learning program volunteer. His address is P O Box 614, Bloomfield, CT 06002, phone 860-242-4593. email: firstname.lastname@example.org